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A picture of Jon Johansen from his blog, titled "So Sue Me."
The notorious DVD Jon strikes at Apple's stranglehold on the PMP market

Jon Lech Johansen's claim to fame was helping to crack DVD encryption by creating a little thing called DeCSS. His feat earned him the moniker of DVD Jon, plus the attentions of the entire technical world and several legal authorities.

Now 22 and his own company, named DoubleTwist, Jon Johansen is set to unravel Apple's iPod/iTunes protection scheme. Fortune Magazine has the full story:

If you want to be specific - and for legal reasons, he does - Johansen has reverse-engineered FairPlay, the encryption technology Apple (Charts) uses to make the iPod a closed system. Right now, thanks to FairPlay, the songs Apple sells at its iTunes store cannot easily be played on other devices, and copy-protected songs purchased from other sites will not play on the iPod. (The iPod will play MP3 files, which do not have any copy protection, but major labels don't sell music in that format.)

Johansen's intention is not to release his findings to the public to create complete PMP anarchy. Rather, he plans to develop software for license to brave companies who are interested in opening up interoperability between software and devices.

Johansen has written programs that get around those restrictions: one that would let other companies sell copy-protected songs that play on the iPod, and another that would let other devices play iTunes songs. Starting this fall, his new company, DoubleTwist, will license them to anyone who wants to get into the digital-music business - and doesn't mind getting hate mail from Cupertino.

In accordance to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which DVD Jon keeps portions of near his desk, what DoubleTwist is attempting to do with its product is not to remove copy protection, but rather add a new layer of protection across a wider range of music players and software.

It probably goes without saying that Apple is very unhappy with Jon Johansen, but in some weird (double) twisted way, this whole thing benefits the iPod/iTunes maker. By opening up iTunes-purchased songs compatibility with other music players, Apple's stands to gain even more market share for its music software. On the other hand, the iPod would then lose some of its Apple chic and all the exclusivity that comes with it.

DoubleTwist already has a client licensing the 'crack' technology, which the company wishes to remain unidentified. Time will tell to see if the industry will catch on to Johansen's plans for the brave new world of online music.

In the meantime, DoubleTwist will continue its efforts to make good on a statement that Steve Jobs himself said back in 2002: "If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own."

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Already has a client licensing the crack? MS?
By Hare on 10/24/2006 12:33:52 PM , Rating: 3
DoubleTwist already has a client licensing the 'crack' technology, which the company wishes to remain unidentified.

Did anyone else think about MS when reading this? MS would benefit a lot if they could make ipod songs transmittable to the Zune. I'm sure MS would throw in enough cash to get the DRM out of iPod songs and keep this company fixed with Apple instead of removing MS DRM.

RE: Already has a client licensing the crack? MS?
By OrSin on 10/24/2006 12:55:53 PM , Rating: 3
MS is already willing to translate all your songs from Itunes. You to remmeber MS don't give a damn about the Zune, any more then care about the xbox. Those are jsut hardware vechicles for software. They want to sell the music not the player. Thye only made plyer becuase no else had the clout to fight apple. Even for the xbox if Sony or Nitentdo would license thier software they would stop making the xbox tomorrow. MS hates the idea of hardware, but they understand it needed to sell thier software.

RE: Already has a client licensing the crack? MS?
By Hare on 10/24/2006 1:02:06 PM , Rating: 3
Did you know that the new Firefox2.0 has an inline spell checker? You might want to try that out :)

And of course MS cares about how they transfer songs to the Zune. Do you think they want to purchase again the same song just to give it to the user or would they rather strip out the DRM if there's a legal way and keep the costs considerably lower?

By DigitalFreak on 10/24/2006 2:31:04 PM , Rating: 3
LOL! No excuse for bad spelling anymore.

By Hare on 10/24/2006 5:27:13 PM , Rating: 2
I think I should have said that this "crack" would allow Zunes to play iTunes songs. That way MS would not have to buy them again and to me it would make perfect sense to get support for Apple's DRM.

RE: Already has a client licensing the crack? MS?
By sdsdv10 on 10/24/2006 12:59:15 PM , Rating: 3
"to get the DRM out of iPod songs"

This is the illegal part, you can not legally remove DRM. I think you missed the point a little. This is simply a software solution that would let other hardware/software combos play songs with FairPlay DRM. It doesn't remove it, just makes it interoperable, which it currently is not.

So yes, if MS did use this it would allow the Zune to play FairPlay based music purchased from iTunes, without removing the DRM .

RE: Already has a client licensing the crack? MS?
By Hare on 10/24/2006 1:03:58 PM , Rating: 2
True. However the legality of DRM removal is different in different parts of the world. But if MS could get Zune to play song purchased from the iTunes-store it would be a big thing for MS.

RE: Already has a client licensing the crack? MS?
By aGreenAgent on 10/24/2006 2:09:06 PM , Rating: 1
I've never read anything about removing DRM being illegal. Any reference?

I'm not convinced the DMCA says anything about this, since all their stipulations for the software being illegal are that it "is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing protection afforded by a technological measure that effectively protects a right of a copyright owner under this title in a work or a portion thereof."

I don't think DRM protects the copyright holder necessarily. If I want to buy a song on iTunes, I legally have every right to put it on a different MP3 player, and breaking DRM would protect me as a consumer, not violate their rights as a copyright holder. So in this case, DRM isn't protecting their rights, it's limiting mine.

By Dactyl on 10/24/2006 6:01:30 PM , Rating: 5
I've never read anything about removing DRM being illegal. Any reference?
You skipped ahead. Try the very first sentence of the DMCA:
17 USC 1201 (a)(1)(A) No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.
Since 17 USC contains our Copyright laws, the "work protected under this title" means a copyrighted work, such as a song sold at iTunes.

RE: Already has a client licensing the crack? MS?
By Dactyl on 10/24/2006 6:17:15 PM , Rating: 3
This is the illegal part, you can not legally remove DRM.... It doesn't remove it, just makes it interoperable
Here's the tricky part: is DVD Jon "removing" the DRM by playing the music, even if the music file is never altered?

His software is necessarily breaking the encryption every time it plays a song from an encrypted file. Is that "removing" the DRM?


If you buy the right to use 1 copy of a software program, you will actually end up using more than 1 copy of it. While you are running the software, there will be 1 copy on your installation CD, 1 copy on your hard drive, 1 copy in your main memory, 1 copy in your L3 cache, 1 copy in your L2 cache, 1 copy in your L1 cache, and 1 copy in your registers.

If you play an encrypted song on your media player, it MIGHT look something like this:

1 - there's 1 encrypted copy in your flash memory
2 - that file is copied entirely into the RAM, so now there's also 1 copy of the encrypted file in your RAM
3 - the file is decrypted, and saved into the RAM. So there's 1 decrypted file in the RAM.
4 - the decrypted file is streamed into the processor so the sound hardware can play it.

In my example, the media player is removing the DRM from the music file in order to play it.


I'm guessing in media players, they don't try to decrypt the whole file all at once. More likely, they decrypt small parts of it right before they play it. But that doesn't change the fact that decryption is taking place. DRM is being removed to reveal and the actual song data so it can be played.

Even if the flash memory is never modified, you might still say that decryption took place and therefore, DRM was removed. This will be an issue for lawyers to fight over.

RE: Already has a client licensing the crack? MS?
By Dactyl on 10/24/2006 6:33:03 PM , Rating: 2
I did a little more reading and I think answered my own question:
17 USC 1201 (a)(3)(A) to "circumvent a technological measure" means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner
Decryption is almost certainly in violation of this... UNLESS the companies DVD Jon licenses his tech to have permission of the copyright owners . The DMCA says nothing about needing permission from whoever designed or applied the DRM. So DVD Jon doesn't need permission from Apple. DVD Jon's customers don't need permission from Apple. Which suggests that there is nothing Apple can do about this (except talk tough and threaten lawsuits and generally act like a bully)

RE: Already has a client licensing the crack? MS?
By colek42 on 10/24/2006 7:03:34 PM , Rating: 3
There is a clause in DMCA that allows you to "reverse engineer" something for the purpose of interoperability. I don't feel like looking it up right now. DMCA was never intended to create monopolies -- which apple is using it for. This sounds like a pretty big gray area in DMCA and we could probably see pretty big legal battles if this thing becomes popular.

By Dactyl on 10/24/2006 7:57:00 PM , Rating: 4
Reverse engineering applies to an encryption scheme like FairPlay. So you're allowed to reverse-engineer FairPlay to see how it works, and even make a program that can strip FairPlay. Just making that program is not illegal.

However, distributing it, and especially selling it, probably would be illegal. Actually using it to strip DRM from files, if you don't have permission, is illegal.

Reverse-engineering FairPlay does not, by itself, give you a right to access music (or other copyrighted material) protected by FairPlay.

To get that, you need permission from the copyright owners.

The flip side of all this is, you NEVER need permission from Apple. You do NOT need permission from Apple to hack FairPlay. Apple can't touch DVD Jon--they can only threaten and bully him with phony lawsuits.


Further: let's imagine one of DVD Jon's customers of DoubleTwist: they're probably a Digital Audio Player manufacturer, for instance, iRiver.

They already have WMA and MP3 files on their players. We know iRiver already has permission to play copyrighted music on their players. So adding AAC format probably wouldn't be a problem--even if they bought it straight from DVD Jon instead of Apple.

I don't know all of the intricate details of licensing deals in the music industry, but my guess is that you pay one time (or zero times), and then the music industry doesn't care whether your files are MP3s, WMAs, OGGs, or AACs. If true, adding AAC should be no problem.


But now I've already thought up an exception to this: what if the copyright holders, when they put music into AAC format for iTunes, specify that all decoding must be approved by Apple as part of the copyright agreement? If they've done this, then DVD Jon's decoder software will never have permission from the copyright owners to decode AAC songs.

It would be worth finding out the license that music providers have to sign with Apple to get their songs into the iTunes store. I wonder if DVD Jon has done this :-)

By saratoga on 10/24/2006 8:01:32 PM , Rating: 3
The interoperability clause trumps that section. Read the whole thing, its all in there.

By Kakumba on 10/25/2006 12:06:00 AM , Rating: 2
How many of these laws (DMCA etc) are applicable to other countries? I, for example, am located here in New Zealand, so most of these laws being quoted probably dont apply here.

There may be equivalent laws (I dont honestly know right know, but will check), however it may be that over here, what he has done is not illegal at all. so, if thats the case, please roll on such software.

By Dactyl on 10/24/2006 6:05:32 PM , Rating: 2
MS will never take on Apple in this manner.

Big companies don't fight with each other like this.

If MSFT undermined FairPlay, they would not be able to complain when Apple came back and undermined PlaysForSure.

MSFT and Apple both want to make money from DRM. They want to compete and get richer, not fight to the death.

By nerdboy on 10/24/06, Rating: 0
RE: Awesome
By phatboye on 10/24/2006 12:02:04 PM , Rating: 2
I have no problem paying for legit music online. The reason why I don't purchase legit music online is because there isn't a standard copy-protected format. Until the day comes when there is a format that can be played on any OS, PMP, radio, etc. I will refuse to use DRM enabled media files. Maybe this will change all of that.

RE: Awesome
By Dfere on 10/24/2006 12:34:38 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but this is not because of technological constraints. Therefore, those who implemented those roadblocks will go far to keep them in place.

I wish him and whoever does business with him luck.

RE: Awesome
By fic2 on 10/24/2006 1:01:00 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder how many casual copiers (dvd/music) would be willing to pay money directly to the copyright owner if a website was set up. Of course, the two things that I see wrong with this is
1) the RIAA would use the payment info to go after people that paid under the assumption that they didn't pay for everything they have downloaded/copied
2) the industry would still charge full retail price for you providing all the materials and doing all the work

I haven't bought a new cd in several years. I haven't copied any either. Last CD I bought ended having 1 good song on it (after buying the bands two previous CDs which I totally loved). I just can't see paying $12-15 for something that is probably going to be at least 75% crap.

I did wonder why he keeps a copy of the DMCA by his desk, but I see from his blog that he moved to the U.S. - home of the free (corporations, not people). We should change that to home of the bought (politicians).

RE: Awesome
By Christopher1 on 10/24/06, Rating: 0
RE: Awesome
By Etsp on 10/24/2006 5:39:16 PM , Rating: 1
As far as I know, legally they can't accept money for anything other than campaign funding. That means they arent allowed to use any money given by any special interest group for ANY purpose other than to fund the campaign for re-election. Money includes objects that can be resold. My Social Studies Teacher in high school taught that one of the ways that the special interest groups "legally bribe" members of congress is with food. They have Buffet's set up around Washinton DC that have very high quality food in them, and Members of congress can eat for free. and btw, I believe they have to report all gifts they recieve as well.

RE: Awesome
By fic2 on 10/24/06, Rating: 0
Apples closed system...
By Legionosh on 10/24/2006 1:44:24 PM , Rating: 1 why I didn't purchase an iPod in the first place. I bought a Sansa 4GB player and have been very happy with it, especially since I can copy whatever MP3s I want to AND from the player, or use it as a temporary storage device for transferring files, the photo and movie playback seem as good as any other player.

Also I can add 2GB of memory via an SDmicro card slot when ever I have the funds to blow and Viola, I have a 6GB player. :-D

I do REALLY hate that the accessories for anything other than iPods are practically non existent, but it seemed the lesser of the two evils.


RE: Apples closed system...
By Etsp on 10/24/2006 5:45:07 PM , Rating: 2
especially since I can copy whatever MP3s I want to AND from the player, or use it as a temporary storage device for transferring files, etc..

As far as I know, the ipod can do all those things as well..... What this article is about, although some of the wording is misleading, is
Right now, thanks to FairPlay, the songs Apple sells at its iTunes store cannot easily be played on other devices, and copy-protected songs purchased from other sites will not play on the iPod.

Meaning, if you bought the music from Itunes, you cannot do those things you listed with them, but, if you bought those songs from Itunes, they are also not mp3's.

RE: Apples closed system...
By Legionosh on 10/25/2006 10:17:35 AM , Rating: 2
Yes I understand all that, and I know the iTunes music format isn't MP3 (at least last I heard it wasn't).

I never knew the iPod could transport files. I had always heard you could NOT copy anything (well at least songs) FROM the iPod, which was a huge negative to me. Which is why I made the decision I did.

Oh and I know the article was about a slightly different topic, but it was closely enough related so I could vent a

In the end, I like the player I bought, but I hate the extremely limited amount of accessories their are available for it, or for anything else that ISN'T iPod.


Gates Jr.
By TimberJon on 10/24/2006 11:58:29 AM , Rating: 2
No offense to Bill, but this dude programs and LOOKS like the next bill gates, at 22 years old and he's developing software that unravels high-level corporate encryption? Thats some heavy stuff. Like the other guy said, Awesome. Hope he doesnt get assasinated. All Apple has to do is call up samsung, the dictatorship communist employee-stranglehold masters.

RE: Gates Jr.
By stmok on 10/24/2006 11:18:00 PM , Rating: 2
Unlike the current Bill Gates, he's not in it to make massive amounts of money at the cost of consumer fustration. He's in it to piss off the content providers! (and maybe make a buck on the side, as in this case) :)

By DigitalFreak on 10/24/2006 2:32:19 PM , Rating: 2
Dude needs to get on the ball and crack AACS!

By Scott66 on 10/27/2006 4:26:14 PM , Rating: 2
If you need it done so bad, do it yourself. This is why DVD Jon is going corporate, he had enough of working his A$$ off developing programs so others can get free music.

This story is awesome
By Sharky974 on 10/24/2006 6:47:17 PM , Rating: 2
On, the politically correct greedheads at Apple get owned.

Two, it's funny this guy has his own corporation now. These pirates sure are hypocrites when it's their turn to try to make a buck.

I bet he went easy on Apple (not releasing this, etc) which he did release all his previous hacks, because Apple is PC. Weenie.

RE: This story is awesome
By MikeO on 10/25/2006 6:00:20 AM , Rating: 2
These pirates

Since when does reverse engineering software and cracking decryption make you a pirate?

That jerk!
By Some1ne on 10/24/2006 11:45:48 PM , Rating: 2
Johansen's intention is not to release his findings to the public to create complete PMP anarchy.

How dare he?!?! A little bit of PMP anarchy is exactly what we need to maintain the free-music status quo that is beneficial to the vast majority of people. Not making his findings public like DeCSS was borders on malicious negligence of responsibilities.

RE: That jerk!
By tjaisv on 10/25/2006 11:58:42 PM , Rating: 2
Well I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before either the findings are leaked or somebody else cracks it publicly.

kid's story
By Pirks on 10/24/2006 12:10:10 PM , Rating: 2
no, he doesn't look like BG to me
this is what I remembered the instant I saw the picture:

- Neo, you saved me
- No, kid, I didn't save you. You saved yourself.

so he's not BG, to me he's the kid from my favorite anime "kid's story" - he's risen against the matrix and fruity agents are already after him - god help him!

By jmunjr on 10/25/2006 3:27:28 AM , Rating: 2
If this ends up having a potentially big impact on the market all Apple has to do is modify iTunes and their songs to allow compatibility with other players and formats, yet do so without removing DRM. This would pretty much squash this "crack" company as it would no longer be needed. In the very least Apple would get revenge on DVD Jon, whether or not it is even warranted.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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